From El Paso's Sun City Music Festival to South Padre's Ultimate Music Experience to Houston's own Something Wicked, Texas ragers have plenty of EDM festival options, even if EDC Texas didn't materialize this year. This past weekend in Dallas, they had another shot at electronic music glory with Lights All Night. Unlike many of the big-time EDM festivals, LAN takes place indoors, in the Dallas Convention Center of all places.
Try imagining a two-day rave at the George R. Brown. Weird, right?
The promoters behind LAN put together such a strong lineup that we temporarily put aside our natural distrust of all things Dallas and made the drive up to take in the show and file this report.
FRIDAY 6:36 p.m. As we head towards the venue, one of the police officers on duty asks someone in a Deadmau5 mask if he or she is a bumblebee. What?
7:15 DJ Green Lantern is playing to a somewhat smaller crowd than he deserves, which is a shame because he does this awesome thing where he mashes up the horns from Kayne's "Blood on the Leaves" with the hook from Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." It's sick.
7:40 The crowd at the boombox stage gets rowdy the moment heRobust starts his set. This is fine because heRobust is just as good as he was at Something Wicked, but I still think Green Lantern should have gotten more love.
8:05 No one sober has ever thought a reggae version of Dark Side of the Moon was a good idea. Hasn't whomever put together the between-acts playlist heard of the trance version? (Don't actually look that up. It's awful too.)
8:08 A security guard tries to flirt with some girls in the crowd, punctuating the moment with the worst attempt at dancing I've seen recently.
8:26 Is this the first time a kazoo has been played on a Lights All Night stage? That kind of goofiness is right at home in Icona Pop's set, even if it's the worst part of the song.
9:00 Icona Pop was the act I was most curious about on the lineup. Yes, they play dance-inspired pop music, but they also don't scream "EDM festival act." To their credit, they know what they're doing and replace many of their original tracks with EDM-styled remixes. It's so fun I don't mind they cut their set short 15 minutes.
9:03 The real reason I don't mind is because this gives me time to rush over and catch most of Le Castle Vania's set. He drops "Raise the Dead" just as I get over to the Boombox stage, and I get chills when hook kicks in.
9:33 Someone drops an e-cigarette, then picks it up off the venue's already questionable-looking cement floor. Did they go sanitize it? Don't be silly.
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10:03 Lights All Night is laid out to have two stages in two different halls of the Dallas Convention Center. The Boombox Stage is the "small" stage, and looks like what it's named. It's visually impressive. The Mothership is the main stage, and it just looks... weird.
The physical stage is actually very small, but it's filled out with multiple light rigs and things that shoot fire along the sides. From a distance it does look pretty cool, but up close it looks kinda silly. Apparently I'm a structure snob.
10:14 As much as I like his music, I think I appreciate Carnage's attitude even more. It's nice to hear his festival trap remix of "Spaceman" at a festival, but it's even nicer to have a DJ onstage who isn't afraid to have an actual personality.
SATURDAY 12:15 a.m. Griz is playing a saxophone, which is way more impressive than playing a kazoo. No offense.
12:30 Deadmau5 starts off his set with this really pretty, laid-back tune. Nearby, someone says, "This better be sick." The beat kicks in, and that someone starts to dance, so I suppose that it is in fact sick. I liked it more before the kick drum.
12:53 Krewella are building up momentum when their mixer shits the bed. They recover nicely, but the most impressive thing about the situation was how the group took an active part in unhooking and hooking wires while swapping mixers out. Good to see they know their equipment.
1:35 Krewella ask the crowd to take their shirts off, and some very enthusiastic souls do. Then they ask the crowd to throw their shirts in the air, which gets a surprising number of "Hell no"s from my section of the crowd. You can't very well go off in to a December night without a shirt.
[Insert montage of Rocks Off sleeping, eating, taking multiple wrong turns, and going to the Half-Price Books flagship store.]
8:35 p.m. Two friends are having an amazing fight as I'm walking to the venue:
Girl: "[Redacted], YOU PROMISED ME THIS NIGHT!" [Redacted]: "Get the fuck over yourself."
8:56 DJ Blend drops the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" into his set, and the crowd politely dances even though there's barely any bass. He wears a Chuckie mask and drops in an AC/DC sample later in his set, so I like him a lot.
10:21 Remember when everyone said that dubstep would ruin dance music? How do those people feel about trap, because I feel like at least half the DJs here have played some in their set.
10:29 A-Trak gives a shout out to Bingo Players, which is really classy. RIP Paul Baumer.
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10:35 Dudebro really wants me to dance, which I don't do, but A-Trak drops "The Night Out" so I dance because I love that song. You win this round, Dudebro.
11:03 Streamers get shot over the crowd three minutes into Above & Beyond's set. They are not here to fuck around.
11:28 Instead of talking to the crowd, A&B type messages that are displayed on the video wall. I look up from watching Anderson Silva end his career to see the line, "How can one feel so alone in a city of millions?" Real talk, A&B. Real talk.
SUNDAY 12:01 a.m. The nicest compliment I can give an act upon seeing them for the first time is, "I feel really dumb not having seen them sooner." A&B, please accept my apology for not making any of your Houston shows this year, because you were awesome.
1:08 I'm not a fan of Major Lazer or Kaskade, but there's pyro at the Mothership, so I watch a bit of Kaskade before heading out to my car. I understand why people like him, but he leaves me as cold as the temperature outside.
2:45 I never go to the afterparty, but Le Castle Vania is spinning and I've never see him in a club. His set is as loud and aggressive as it was at the festival, which is the only reason I'm still functioning. Good, good stuff.
3:25 Cars continue to arrive to the afterparty. Girls wearing very little shiver. Friends smile and embrace when they see each other. There's still another hour to go and people will continue to dance. I get in my car and drive down Elm Street, past the grassy knoll in the same lane Kennedy was in when he was shot. It seemed like the thing to do at 3:25 a.m. in Dallas.
My only regret is not having a Lights All Night pun to share with you here at the end.
Personal Bias (Sunday, 1:15 a.m.): I am the only person heading to the parking lot right now. How wrong must I be about Kaskade and Major Lazer?
The Crowd (Saturday, 10:15 p.m.): Find new way to describe crowd. You can do it.
Overheard In the Crowd (Friday, 11:45 p.m.): "I've been holding that puke in all night, so I just decided to say 'Fuck it.'" That is not my favorite quote of the night. My favorite quote of the night is what his friend says in response: "Do you need me to get you some water?" Friendship is a beautiful thing.
Creepiest Thing Overheard In the Crowd (Friday, 6:45 p.m.): "Merry Christmas, you two," said a guy walking near me, to himself, about two girls dressed as sexy Santas. It probably wouldn't have been very memorable had he not rubbed his hands together like an old-time movie villain about to tie someone to a railroad track.
Best Sets My Favorite Sets of the Weekend: A-Trak, Icona Pop, Above & Beyond
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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